Dental care for your pets
Bad breath, tartar buildup, red gums. If any of these conditions apply to your pet, it’s time for a dental exam
We perform dental procedures on dogs, cats and increasingly on rabbits using equipment you would recognise from your own dentists’ surgery.
At our fully equipped Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons approved veterinary hospital – Charter Veterinary Hospital, Roundswell – we offer dental radiography.
In recent years, the importance of dental care in pets has been realised. What you can now do for your pets’ teeth at home has come on leaps and bounds. There are a number of tooth pastes and brushes available for dogs and cats and brushing your pets’ teeth should be the corner stone of dental care just as it is for us.
If you are patient and introduce teeth brushing in the correct manner, the vast majority of dogs will tolerate it and with chicken flavoured tooth paste, many pets will look forward to it! Cats can be more stubborn but a significant proportion of cats will tolerate brushing. For a small minority of pets, brushing can just be a little strange and too much to cope with! In this scenario, plaque and tartar development can be significantly reduced by using oral hygiene rinses, a specialized diet and chews can have a role to play.
If you do not pay attention to your pets’ teeth, it is a very real possibility that they will end up looking similar to the teeth shown here where there is severe tartar build up and subsequent gum disease.
As you may expect, with the teeth above, there would be quite a list of problems you may note at home. These would include bad breath, reduced appetite or slow, tentative eating. You may note your dog chewing on just one side. There may even be signs of pain with your pet rubbing their face with paws or on objects in the house. Some of the dangers of having teeth as shown are not as obvious. Infection can spread up the tooth roots and cause infections of the jaw bone and hidden abscesses. Teeth like this will also cause a steady low grade septicaemia (bacteria entering and circulating in the blood stream). These bacteria in the blood are toxic to the heart muscle; they can seed infections in the heart or the other organs such as the kidneys.
It isn’t just at home where pet dentistry has improved. At Charter Veterinary Hospital, we enjoy having a state of the art theatre. The dental theatre is fully set to perform all but the must specialist dental procedures. One piece of equipment that we have recently invested in is a digital dental x‐ray unit. This amazing bit kit allows us to take very accurate pictures of any given tooth and the surrounding structures. We use a tiny x-ray plate that can be placed into your pets’ mouth. With the click of a button an image will appear on our monitor in just a few seconds.
Much like an iceberg, a large percentage of pets teeth are out of sight. Lying below the gum line, it can be impossible to assess the tooth roots and surrounding structures without x-rays.
Examples of cases which benefit from dental radiographs would include cats suffering from FORLS (Feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions) and dogs with tooth root infections or abscesses (periapical disease).
FORLs are unfortunately a very common lesion that can be found effecting domestic cats. The underlying cause for them remains unknown. FORLs cause the outer structures of a tooth to be eaten away. Once the enamel and dentine of a tooth are eroded the sensitive pulp cavity is exposed to the outer world. As you may appreciate, this is an extermely painful condition and can be likened to having an extremely sensitive tooth all the time. They commonly occur at the junction between tooth and gum are characterised by a fleshy pink appearance where you would expect to see tooth! They can occur on both clean and dirty teeth.
It is helpful to take radiographs in all these cases to assess the roots.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the questions frequently asked by our pet owners about dental care for their pets.
You should look out for:
- Bad breath – one of the first signs of dental disease
- A yellowish-brown crust of plaque on the teeth near the gum line
- Red and swollen gums
- Pain or bleeding when your pet eats or when the mouth or gums are touched
- Decreased appetite or difficulty eating
- Excessive drooling
When you bring your pet in for his or her yearly exam and vaccinations, we always check the health your pet’s teeth. However, if you notice any of these symptoms, please call us and schedule an appointment.
- Start by getting your dog used to having your fingers around its mouth by gently pulling gums back and massaging them
- Use a finger brush to get your dog used to having something touching its teeth and gums
- Once your dog is used to the finger brush, move on to using toothpaste and a doggy toothbrush. Only dog‐friendly toothpaste should be used as it does not contain fluoride which is dangerous to dogs
- Always use positive reinforcement and praise so your dog ends up enjoying having its teeth cleaned
If you aren’t able to brush your cat’s or your dog’s teeth every day, you should consider feeding them cat food or dog food specially formulated to provide dental benefits.
Pets are like people. Some have great teeth and some have teeth that need constant care. When you bring your pets to us for annual exams, we always check their teeth and give you our recommendations for care.
This depends on the individual animal. Some dogs and cats, particularly the smaller breeds, or there are no general rules for all.
Like humans, cats have two sets of teeth in their lives. There are 26 deciduous teeth, also known as their primary, baby, milk, or kitten teeth, and 30 permanent teeth, also known as their adult teeth.
Whatever the time of day or night, if your pets needs intensive care, we are there to provide it. Charter Vets have a fully equipped veterinary hospital so rest assured, we have a team on-site 24 hours a day to look after your pet’s needs.
We provide dentistry for pets using equipment you would recognise from your own dentists’ surgery. We are also one of the few facilities in Devon that offers dental radiography.
Our hydrotherapy unit allows your pet to benefit from buoyancy-assisted exercise in warm water - a gentle and supportive way for your dog to exercise while recuperating from injury or illness.
No matter how thorough our vets are, some diagnoses require more than just a physical examination alone. We offer an extensive range of diagnostics to find out why your pet is ill.
Behind every good vet, there's an even better nurse. Our experienced team of veterinary nurses can give you helpful advice and care on a wide range of services.
Deaf BSL service
SignVideo is a free service for deaf clients who use British Sign Language (BSL). You can use it to make a call to our veterinary practices and during a face to face appointment.